- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 28, 2007

NORTH KOREA

U.N. inspectors head for reactor

SEOUL — United Nations inspectors were reportedly heading to a North Korean nuclear reactor early today, a day after the leader of the U.N. team said they had received permission to visit the plutonium-producing facility.

Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported today that the team had left its Pyongyang hotel for the Yongbyon reactor, about 55 miles from capital.

The development came as a U.S. official criticized North Korea for conducting test firings of short-range missiles Tuesday, calling the action a provocation that could destabilize the region.

The trip would be the first by International Atomic Energy Agency monitors since North Korea expelled them in late 2002.

Olli Heinonen, the IAEA deputy director, emphasized, however, that the trip would not be a formal inspection.

IRAQ

Bombing kills 14 near Shi’ite shrine

BAGHDAD — The United States‘ No. 2 diplomat in Iraq yesterday predicted progress by fall on bringing together Iraq’s feuding factions even as violence claimed more lives, including 14 persons killed in a late night car bombing near a Shi’ite shrine in the capital.

In all, at least 60 Iraqis were killed or found dead across the country, most of them in the Baghdad area, according to police reports. Also yesterday, one American soldier was killed and four were wounded in a roadside bombing in east Baghdad, the U.S. command said.

During a press conference, Daniel Speckhard, the second-ranking U.S. diplomat in Iraq, said he was hopeful that the Iraqis would make progress on “some” legislation by September. That’s when Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker are to submit a report on prospects for ending the violence.

MOZAMBIQUE

Laura announces aid package

MAPUTO — U.S. first lady Laura Bush yesterday announced $507 million in assistance would be approved for Mozambique to build roads and boost its battle with malaria, which kills about 150 Mozambicans each day.

Mrs. Bush, who is on a four-nation tour of Africa, said the U.S. assistance would be targeted at strengthening property rights, improving roads and agriculture, and installing water wells to help provide clean water.

SUDAN

Hollywood stars give millions to Darfur

NEW YORK — “Ocean’s Thirteen” stars have donated $5.5 million to humanitarian efforts in Sudan’s Darfur region, according to actor George Clooney.

Mr. Clooney told the Associated Press in a telephone interview from Rome that he was joined by Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle and producer Jerry Weintraub in raising $9.3 million for Darfur, most of which was contributed at a dinner during the film’s premiere last month at the Cannes Film Festival.

Mr. Clooney announced the latest donation from his organization, Not on Our Watch — $1 million to the U.N. World Food Program — which raised to $5.5 million the amount the group has given to humanitarian and relief organizations in Darfur in less than three weeks.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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